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9/11 Tribute Ride Rolls Through Newtown



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Sirens and flashing emergency vehicle lights were the first hint that more than 2,000 motorcycles were about to raise a long rumble past bystanders Sunday, August 30, for the 15th Annual CT United Ride. The ride, which started after 9/11, is both a tribute and fundraiser for family emergency relief funds for state police and firefighters and two local United Way agencies.

Emma Guilfoil, 7, sat on a truck tailgate, waving a small American flag. She looked overhead where the Newtown Hook & Ladder Co. #1 and Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company had used their ladder trucks to suspend a large American flag over South Main Street, near Amaral Motors. Joining Emma and her grandmother Debbie Aurelia Halstead was Marcella Stapleton, who also wore a festive headband in her hair. Ms Halstead raised her own handheld flag, saying she was out to show her support “every year. I wave the flag the entire time.”

It took roughly 30 minutes for all riders to pass, from the lead multi-town police motorcycle units to the ambulance following the parade of bikes.

A few yards up the road was another pickup truck carrying another American flag. Scott Runkle of Newtown also goes out every year with his flag, he said. He believes in “cheering them on.”

Liz Correa of Wilton, and her son Jack, almost 3, had been passing through town and decided to stop to see the ride. Her uncle, Ken Shillinglau, rode in the pack of bikes that started in Norwalk and meandered through ten towns, to arrive in Bridgeport.

Flying above the fire trucks on South Main Street was a drone/camera device capturing a bird’s-eye view of riders passing beneath the red and white stripes on their way from Route 302, where they turned right onto Route 25 near Ram Pasture, then followed Route 25 into Monroe and beyond. Brothers Mike and Steve Tracz, both of Derby, flew their remote controlled drone camera in the sky and recorded the ride.

Large flags for riders to pass under were also displayed on Sunday at Dodgingtown and Botsford fire stations.  

Once the roar of exhaust pipes faded, firefighters quickly lowered their ladders and brought down the flag. Spectators soon moved away, and traffic — which had been prevented by the police escort from accessing the route as the motorcycles passed through — slowly returned to normal for a Sunday afternoon.

Marcella Stapleton, left, and Debbie Aurelia Halstead were among the hundreds of people who lined the CT United Route this year. The event is both a 9/11 tribute and fundraiser for family emergency relief funds for local police officers and fire department members, and two United Way chapters.
Among the hundreds of riders passing through several Fairfield County towns including Newtown on Sunday was one man with a fist raised as he passed under the raised flag on South Main Street.
Police bikes from regional towns and cities including Trumbull and Hamden led the more than 2,000 motorcycles participating in the CT United Ride on Sunday, August 30. Riders and their passengers were cheered on by spectators who lined the roads of the 60-mile route, including a section of South Main Street near Borough Lane. Hook & Ladder and Sandy Hook firefighters had a large American flag strung between their ladder trucks, creating an arch under which the motorcycles passed for the 15th year.
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